N1NO – The Hunt for Glory – Chapter 14 “The Glorious Chapter”

On August 21st 2016, N1NO Schurter completed his collection of Olympic medals by winning Gold in Rio de Janeiro, after winning the Bronze medal in Beijing in 2008, and Silver in London in 2012.

The 5x UCI MTB World Champion had not only set himself the biggest goal, but also put himself under tremendous pressure to succeed in his Hunt for Glory. Now that the hunt has ended in glory, N1NO breaks down the last few years for us.

N1NO – The Hunt for Glory – Chapter 12 #NEWBIKEDAY

What does it take to be a champion? World class talent, world class drive, and world class equipment. To develop the best products, it is important to get feedback from the best athletes in the world in order to create podium worthy bikes.

Check out how Nino shaped the development of the new Scale and Spark in the latest release of “Hunt for Glory.”


See our first ride impressions of the new Scott Spark range here:

Flow’s First Bite: 2017 Scott Spark

And the Scott Scale range too!

Flow’s First Bite: 2017 Scott Scale

Flow’s First Bite: 2017 Scott Spark

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The insanely light Spark RC 900 SL. 29er frame weight is just 1779g including shock, that is absolutely bonkers. Building up to a sub-10kg complete bike!
Climbing the impossible climbs on the traction machine – Spark Plus.

“Engineers don’t like design compromises. Splitting the Spark family into three models allowed us to create bikes with a shared DNA and distinct purpose. The Spark RC is a 100% race dedicated full suspension bike – by designing a 1x specific platform and using HMX-SL fibres for the first time on MTB we’ve set a new benchmark in terms of weight. The final bike is the result of hundreds of careful design decisions which combine to create the perfect racing tool for our racers to keep on winning.” – Joe Higgins, Chief of MTB Engineering.


Check out the insanely light 2017 Scott Scale hardtail in our first impressions piece here: 2017 Scott Scale.


The New Spark

First spotted in the hands of World Champion Nino Schurter, the new Spark sent the internet forums into a whirlwind. What was this crazy looking thing, visibly so different to the current Spark!? Let alone that it was in fact a 29er (sorry 27.5″ fans, Nino will choose to race a 29er Spark or Scale at Rio).

Well, firstly the lightest configuration of the new Spark SL frame is a ridiculous 1779g for the 29er and 1749g for 27.5″. Taking 217 grams out of the already category leading 2016 frame was a result of hundreds of marginal gains. For 2017 the R&D gurus at Scott drew upon a deep wealth of expertise in carbon, and especially road bike technology to take their Spark and Scale frames to the next level.

The weight loss comes down to more intelligent shapes for the new carbon composite layers, simplifying the frame with 1X and 2X drivetrains, a new pivot-free rear triangle, a new brake mount, and a lighter rocker link. And a lot of this can be attributed to the emergence of a few new standards, like Boost hub spacing and the new Trunnion Mount rear shock.

Frame geometry and suspension curves also score an overhaul, bringing it up to speed with the modern demands. Scott’s excellent Twin-Loc suspension adjustment system carries forward, the tw0-position air volume adjustment controlled at the handlebar is key to the Scott range’s impressive versatility choose between Descend Mode, Traction Mode and locked out.

New Rear Triangle: The new pivotless swingarm allows the rear triangle to be moulded in just two continuos carbon parts, where the older version was made up from 18 seperate parts. The 130g saving is where most of the weight has been taken from the frame. The rear end will now give a few degrees of flex to allow the suspension to do its thing, instead of a bushing pivot and all its hardware.

Old vs new. Now that's what we call simplifying!
Old vs new. Now that’s what we call simplifying!

To allow the frame to flex freely a new brake mount was designed, anchored around the axle and chain stay, this allows the seat stay to move the way it needs to. A 160mm and 180mm disc rotor size mount is available.

New vs old brake mount area.
New vs old brake mount area.

Metric Trunnion Shock Mount: Two new standards of the rear shock is found on the new Spark, metric shock sizing and the shorter sized Trunnion Mounting arrangement. The stout and short shock allows greater freedom for the frame design, sitting lower and wider in the frame, and also more stroke length with the same eye-to-eye length.

The new downward pointing rear shock allows freedom with frame sizes too, removing the shock from fixing to the top tube (which grows as the sizes do) is an obvious benefit and more economical.

New vs old, the Trunnion Mount is wider and allows for a very compact shock arrangement.
New vs old, the Trunnion Mount is wider and allows for a very compact shock arrangement.
Old vs new Spark BB area. Note the wide and central Trunnion rear shock mount.
Old vs new Spark BB area. Note the wide and central Trunnion rear shock mount.

New Sandwich Dropout: The new dropout is also an area of weight saving, on the Scale hardtail also. Available for both Shimano Direct Mount and SRAM it integrates into the thu-axle for a leaner and stiffer section.

New vs old, the new pivotless rear end saves a huge 130g.
New vs old, the new SW dropout clamps onto the axle and allows a one-piece moulded carbon section for both stays.

Suspension and Geometry: A criticism we had with our review of the 2016 Scott Spark 900 Premium recently was the frame geometry was a little out-dated, we wanted shorter stays, and slacker angles to let the bike ride better. So we’re stoked that the new Spark is all that and more.

For the 29er the chain stays are 13mm shorter than before, now a respectable 435mm. Reach is longer, head angle slackens off 1.3 degrees and the whole standover is a huge 28mm lower.

Scott have worked on developing a more sensitive suspension curve too, and coupled with the Twin-Loc dual air chamber of the rear shock, this is one seriously adaptable bike.


Three Sparks.

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Taking the Scott Spark Plus to places 120mm bikes wouldn’t normally go.

While we are sure to admit the Scott range is overwhelming and a little confusing at times, the result is excellent choice and options for the rider. Here’s a quick overview of the Spark range coming to Australia.

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The Spark range is divided three ways, in multiple wheel sizes.

The new Spark platform comes with three different wheel sizes and different travel options. The frame of the 27.5″ wheel Spark RC 700 SL weighs in at only 1749 g (including shock and hardware). The frame of the 29″ frame Spark RC 900 SL weighs in at only 1779g (including shock and hardware).


Spark RC 900 / Spark 900: The all-out 29er race bike.Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 11.31.07 AM

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Hitting the ‘A-line’ on the Lenzerheide XCO race loop on the Spark 900 RC SL.

First impressions: You want to race? This is your weapon, there are few bikes as successful on the race circuit as the new Spark, and the new version cements itself at the top by shaving serious weight. Hitting the trails on the Spark 900 RC was quite an experience, the acceleration and rolling speed is outstanding. Your power goes straight to the rear wheel, and the perfectly ergonomic Twin-Loc lever is there for the sprints and climbs, lock it or switch to climb mode and you’re so well supported to mash on the pedals in anger.


Spark RC 700 / Spark 700: Lightweight 27.5″ wheel race bike.Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 11.30.55 AM_LOW3519The 120mm trail-ready version of the Spark.

First Impressions: This is the Spark for the trail rider, with both wheel size options, the ‘regular’ spark feels so much more neutral than it’s racey RC brother. With meatier tyres, dropper posts, 34mm leg forks this is a seriously progressive bike from Scott.

We spent a lot of time on this bike, and we can see massive appeal for the trail rider that races a few times a year._LOW3708


Spark 700 Plus: Super fun and capable trail bike. So much traction!Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 11.31.18 AM

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Big rubber, short travel, light frame, a seriously good combo!

The Plus is a 130/12omm travel bike with 2.8″ Maxxis tyres for a completely different character to the racey Spark range but sharing the same incredibly light frame.
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First Impressions: For those who are yet to experience a plus bike, we urge you to try one. This Spark Plus is a completely different bike, while it shares the same lightweight frame, the extra fork travel and 2.8″ Maxxis plus tyres transform it into a capable and fun bike to blast through trails in confidence. 2.8″ tyres can climb up harder, steeper and looser ascents, and turn the bike into a descent and you’ve got control in spades.

Maxxis make an appearance on the new Scott range, previously very involved with Schwalbe, testing proved them not to be durable enough, and Maxxis are much more affordable too, all good from our end.

We could bang on about plus bikes for ages, they really are great fun to ride. Check out review of the Scott Genius Plus here: Scott Genius Plus review.

New the concept of plus? What’s it all about? Click here for a little more on Plus. 


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Comfortably laying over the Spark Plus.

Flow’s First Bite: Scott Spark 900 Premium

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29″ wheels, on-the-fly compression and travel adjust, and so, so light.

For the past few seasons, the Spark has been available in both 27.5 and 29er formats. We’ve opted to test the 29er version, which has slightly less travel than the 27.5″ model (100mm vs 120mm). In this category of bike we’re still inclined to prefer the larger wheel; when you’re hammering along a fireroad or hanging onto the bars at the end of a five hour marathon, we find the big wheels really help cover ground and cover up mistakes._LOW0635-2

 

24/34 dual rings.
24/34 dual rings.

Coming in at 10.3kg, the 900 Premium is lighter than an angel’s fart. Scarily enough, there are even lighter models in the Spark range – the frameset is one of the lightest on the market, which is part of the appeal these bikes possess for racing.

A full XTR drivetrain and brakes, super light Syncros carbon bar, post and stem, and some very racy Syncros wheels all help to keep this bike incredibly lean. Needless to say, we were diligent about using a torque wrench when it came to building this bike – a carbon stem is a weight saving we’d happily forego, tightening that sucker up is terrifying!

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The FOX Nude shock isn’t an item you’ll find on other brands’ bikes. The TwinLoc system lets you drop from 100mm to 70mm travel at the push of a button.

The TwinLoc suspension system is well-proven and extremely effective, giving you simultaneous control over the damping (and travel) of both fork and shock. The handlebar-mounted lever has three positions: open – the fork and shock are fully active; traction mode – the fork is toggled to a firmer damping setting and the rear travel drops to 70mm, which firms up the suspension and raises the bottom bracket slightly; lock out – the fork and shock are fully locked out. This system is incorporated into a FOX Nude shock, which you won’t find on any other brands’ bikes.

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Yes, there are lots of cables, but they’re all well managed.

Because the Spark 900 Premium has a twin chain ring in addition to the TwinLoc system, there are a lot of cables to keep an eye on! It’s executed very neatly all things considered, but we’d probably be inclined to run a single chain ring, then get a TwinLoc ‘Downside’ remote which positions the TwinLoc lever under the bar in place of the front shifter.

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The Spark gets a 32mm-legged fork and filthy light wheels. This is a proper XC bike, and the balance between weight and robustness is definitely tipped towards saving grams.

Set up has been simple – the TwinLoc system doesn’t require any funky shock pumps or use two rebound dials like the Cannondale Jekyll’s DYAD shock which also has travel adjustability. We’ve opted to leave the Spark’s geometry adjustment in the lower/slacker of the two settings, and we’ve gone tubeless with the wheels of course too. Now all that’s left is to go hunt down our mates and leave them in our dust!

24/34 dual rings.
24/34 dual rings.

Flow’s First Bite: Scott Scale 720 Plus

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2.8″ is a whole lot of rubber, in a really good way.

On review we have the $2299 Scott Scale 720 Plus, the only plus hardtail from Scott coming Down Under, let’s take a look at it before we get rowdy.

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She’s a real looker, with brilliant colours and finishing we’ve grown to love from Scott.

What’s Plus?

What is a ‘plus bike’ you’re asking? In a nutshell it’s just a 27.5″ wheel bike with bigger tyres, like this one with a voluminous 2.8″. No it’s not a fat bike, they ride more like regular bikes in our experience, and the best plus bikes are a result of finding the sweet spot between all the wheel size factors like diameter, width, volume and tread.

Scott are well and truly at the forefront of the new plus thing, we’ve learnt that one already.

The outer diameter of the wheel is close to that of a 29er, but the actual wheel is a regular 27.5″. So the rolling benefits of the large diameter is there, but you still get a lively and agile feeling bike. They aren’t here to win races, they are just a seriously good option for anyone who wants to enjoy riding trails, especially if they are loose and rocky.

The tyres are run at low pressure, with a good tubeless setup we were running around 13-15 psi in the tyres, that may sound low but with the super-wide rims the tyre doesn’t squirm around like you’d expect with low pressure, the support is ace.


Our experiences with Plus bikes. 

Plus bikes are not new to us at Flow, we reviewed the Scott Genius Plus and bigger travel Genius LT Plus and the Scale 710 Plus hardtail (not an Australian model) last year. We LOVED them, why? Read this – Scott Genius and Scale Plus review.

We’ve tested a couple Specialized 6 Fattie bikes too, the Fuse hardtail is a comparable option to this Scale, an extra $700 but we loved riding it. Specialized Fuse Expert 6 Fattie review.

And the Stumpjumper 6 Fattie was one of the most fun tests we’ve ever done. Review here: Specialized Stumpjumper Comp 6 Fattie review.

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Imagine what you could do with tread like this!?
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40mm wide rims, a key factor in supporting the low pressure tyres.

The frame.

This Swiss brand’s aluminium frames often look better than many brand’s expensive carbon ones, and this Scale 720 is no exception, it’s a real beauty.

Bold green and blue graphics drip all over the smooth matte black finish, with internally routed cables, smooth welds and a neat set of dropouts with the Shimano direct mounting for the rear derailleur.

There’s provisions for a dropper post (phew) and you can see how the engineers have been able to manage a short rear end despite having to fit such a big rear tyre in the frame, the chainstays and seat tube are very different in shape to any of the regular Scale frames.

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Stumpy little headtube, handy if you want to dump the stem down low.
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Internal cabling done nicely.

The parts.

The Scale 720 is the entry level Plus bike from Scott and the most affordable Plus bike we’ve ridden, at this price point the challenge is set to keep the bike’s weight down whilst still speccing it with the parts that will let it realise it potential on the trail.

Not here to win cross country races, the Plus bike just wants to have a good time, so the fork is 120mm, bars are wide and the stem is short, and of course the tyres are meaty. But there is no dropper post or tubeless ready rims or tyres.

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A Suntour fork Raidon fork is fitted up front with 32mm diameter legs, 120mm of travel and a remote handlebar lockout. We’ve not ridden any recent forks from Suntour, but from where we sit there seems to be plenty of development and high end riders on Suntour suspension, so we are very curious as to how they feel.

The Raidon is an air and coil sprung fork with adjustable rebound and their unique Q LOC quick release axle. We’ve seen RockShox and FOX master their take on the QR axle, but Manitou’s dismal attempt on the Specialized Fuse 6 Fattie drove us mad, so let’s hope this one goes ok.

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Shimano brakes and shifters.
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Shimano throughout.
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Shimano XT rear derailleur, but the older version without the clutch. Bugger.

Shimano take care of the brakes and drivetrain, with a mix of Deore and XT but there’s a distinct absence of a clutch mechanism on the rear derailleur. The clutch cuts down the noise and chain slap via a clever tension resistance switch on the derailleur cage. It’s not the biggest issue, but it’ll surely make the bike feel a little outdated in terms of noise and chain security.

The double chainring setup will ensure you’ll be able to climb anything and never run out of gears, and the gear cables are sealed and out of way from the elements so it’ll be a great all-weather bike for sure.

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Double chainring for maximum range!
Testing the Scale 710 in Dear Valley last year at the 2016 launch.
Testing the Scale 710 in Dear Valley last year at the 2016 launch. Now it’s time to test the Scale on home soil.

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Righto, let’s ride!

Stay tuned for our full review.

N1NO – The Hunt for Glory – Chapter 6: Making History

In one of the most exciting XCO Racing seasons in history, N1NO Schurter took back the coveted rainbow jersey.

It is the 4th Elite World Championship title of his career. His 10th victory this year marked the 29 year old SCOTT athlete’s best ever season.

Coming to World Championships after winning three World Cup races in a row made N1NO the clear favourite for the Worlds title.

Check out N1NO´s season recap and learn more how this World Championship title was brought back home.

N1NO – The Hunt for Glory – Chapter 1 Work Hard Play Hard

Nino Schurter belongs on the list of the most successful mountain bike athletes in history. The 3 time World Champion is the leader of SCOTT Odlo MTB Racing, the international XC team run by bike legend Thomas Frischknecht.

“N1NO – The Hunt for Glory” is Nino Schurter`s first set of “webisodes.” The new video series features various chapters illustrating Nino`s colourful life as a professional mountain bike athlete during the pre-olympic year. It´s not only about how Nino prepares for the biggest goal of his career, the golden medal in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, but it‘s also about shredding trails, travelling around the world, and all the fun that mountain biking brings.

 

Flow’s First Bite: Scott 2015 Range Tested

After previewing the oh-so-lovely Scott 2015 range in Melbourne, it was time to lift the altitude to lung burning levels, throw in some relaxing chairlifts, endless dusty singletrack, a seven foot wild moose and the golden opportunity to test any 2015 Scott bike we wanted. We were in Deer Valley, Utah for some seriously intensive bike testing.

With singletrack galore at our glove tips, Flow’s Mick Ross took a hit for the team in the name of journalism and put time on both wheel size Scott Sparks, a 27.5″ Genius and its bigger brother the Genius LT, and lastly the all-new highly adjustable 27.5″ wheeled Gambler downhill bike.

Scott 2015 tested 1
Deer Valley, just out of Park City in Utah was a damn fine place to burn some brake pads and test the limits of the new Scott range.

[divider]Scott Spark[/divider]

Scott offer wheel size as an option, meaning the exact bike is available in either 27.5″ or 29″ wheels, which could be a headache for smaller markets like Australia, with bike stores and the distributors managing double options for the Scale, Spark and Genius models. This is an interesting moment for the bike industry – along with Scott, Specialized, Trek and Lapierre also offer the same bike in two wheel sizes, whilst some brands (like Giant) on the other hand have wholly adopted the 27.5″ wheel across their entire range of mountain bikes.

Regardless, rhe 29″ Sparks have slightly less suspension travel front and back (100mm) than the 27.5″ Spark (120mm) to play to the strengths the larger wheel  We are seeing it more and more these days, where brands are helping the consumer decide on the wheel size by relating the decision to frame size. Below is a graph that Scott use to communicate the ‘sizes for sizes’ concept – food for thought, anyhow.

Screen Shot 2014-07-30 at 4.50.42 pm
Wheelsize as an option is confusing for some, but also adds more choice. Communicating the benefits to the consumer is the hard part.

Slight shock tune changes and new spec choices aside, next season’s Spark remains largely the same as the 2014 version but we were eager to spend time on them anyhow as we hold them very high on our list of preferred bikes for cross country . We seized the opportunity to take the Spark 700 Tuned and Spark 900 Tuned, the top level Spark identical in spec, size medium, in both wheel sizes out for a good old back-to-back wheel size comparison on a short and punchy test loop. Same tyres, same everything. Trying to forget any pre-existing opinions of the wheel size debate, we approached it like it was our first time.

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High up above the tree line, where an adaptable and lightweight bike is a real joy.

Highlights of the 27.5″ Spark.

  • Heightened agility; The quick nature of the smaller diameter wheels translates perfectly into the Spark’s lightweight, flickable and spritely frame with crazy fast results.
  • Loves ripping around tight turns; Into and out of a slow corner, or tight squeeze between trees, the 27.5″ Spark jumps back up to speed with incredible responsiveness.
  • Promotes playful riding and jumping; Feeling a lot like the older 26″ wheeled Spark, this guy doesn’t mind a bit of airtime, manuals/wheelies or popping into the air and landing where you planned to with real predictability.
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The 120mm 27.5″ wheel Spark.

Favourite aspects of the 29″ Spark.

  • Stable and comfortable; The bigger wheel – especially up front – gave us a reassuring feeling that there was more between us and the ground than with the 27.5″ Spark.
  • Loads of traction; When cornering, braking or turning the 29er exhibited more contact with the dirt, and hence increased traction.
  • Maintains speed like a perpetual motion machine; When you get moving, the Spark 29er stays moving. The bigger wheels love to be wound up and let go, maintaining speed is a real forte and very noticeable compared to its smaller wheel brother.
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    The 100mm travel 29″ wheel Spark.

What would we choose, 27.5″ or 29″?

  • If your frame size is smaller, the 27.5″ makes sense regardless, and the same goes for a larger rider with the 29″ bike suiting best.
  • If you’re a medium size frame like we are, it’s time to give it real thought. Fun, or efficient? Not that either can’t be fun or efficient, they each have a strengths, not weaknesses.
  • Marathon or endurance races will be fantastic aboard a 29er, where the distance is gobbled up by the big rolling wheels. Also, for less-experienced riders, the confidence and sure-footedness of a bigger wheel is valuable.
  • If your trails are tighter, races shorter, or the reason you ride is pure fun, the smaller wheeled Spark won’t resist that hooligan within you coming out. It shall let you dart about the place pulling wheelies and pumping around the trails at crazy pace.

[divider]Genius[/divider]

It’s hard not to love the Scott Genius, with its category leading lightweight frame and the proven Twinloc system controlling an adaptable, supple and sensitive 150mm of rear suspension. It’s a real winner, plus since the move to FOX rear shocks last year, they just got more favourable in our books.

Like the shorter travel Spark, the Genius comes in two flavours, 27.5″ or 29″ with a few of models to choose from $3500 – $6300 in aluminium and carbon. We spent a great deal of time on the Genius 700 Tuned, the cream of the crop model, dripping in the finest components, and constructed from Scott’s HMX highest grade carbon magic material.

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The Genius. Smart.

On the trail, the Genius doesn’t ride like a lot of the other 150mm bikes, like the Trek Slash, Lapierre Zesty, or a Giant Trance SX for example. The Genius swings more toward the theme of a long legged trail bike, rather than a mega plush, slack ground-hugging bike, with a combination of sharper angles, upright seating position, and a suspension rate that feels firm and supported. Frame geometry is adjustable via a tiny and unobtrusive reversible chip at the bottom shock mount, which allows a little bit of an ‘attitude adjustment’; we ran it in the low/slack setting, but would opt for steeper head angled if the riding was to be dominated by tighter, slower trails or more climbing.

Scott insist on speccing a 32mm legged fork on the Genius, we’d love to see a 35mm leg RockShox Pike, or a FOX 34mm legged fork up front for a little bit more front end rigidity and confidence when turning the bike under brakes.

After spending time on the Spark and Genius LT we gravitated back to the 27.5″ Genius. It’s just so capable everywhere, up the climbs, down them and anything in between. It’s a true all-mountain bike, capable of letting you explore and ride anything. If you’re always travelling, or riding new trails, the Genius would be that perfect bike for arriving at a trail unseen, you will never be under gunned or over prepared.

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FOX and Scott have headquarters nearby each other in Switzerland, hence the collaboration with their proprietary rear shock, the Nude.
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The Genius may not be the slackest 150mm bike in its category, but you could mix it up in a marathon race, as it is so efficient.

[divider]Genius LT[/divider]

Rejoice! The Scott Genius LT is coming to Australia. We’ll soon see three models ranging from $4799 for the Genius LT 720, up to the model we tested here, the Genius LT 700 Tuned for $8999.

The Genius LT, is a big rig. With a whopping 170mm of travel, big rubber and a healthy dose of burly components, this is the bike Scott’s enduro racers use. The Genius LT personifies enduro in every aspect, it’s a big rig capable of riding the roughest, steepest and fastest trails around the world. Be warned though, it needs real terrain and elevation to make the most of it. After seeking out the steepest and roughest black diamond trails in Deer Valley, we never got close to finding the upper limits of this mighty capable bike. But, we still got a very good idea what it is all about.

What the Genius LT does well is squashing a whole lot of gravity loving attitude and components into a super efficient riding bike. Just like the regular Genius and the Spark, it uses the Twinloc suspension, which does much more than lock out the suspension via a remote lever. The instant you hit that Twinloc lever, the bike jumps up, the suspension firms up and you get a real boost. It really feels like you’ve been given a push.

The frame geometry is also quite tuneable, an interchangeable headset is included with the Genius LT, and the lower rear shock mount is reversible too, to give the rider a healthy dose of options to tweak the bike to excel in the climbs, slower, faster or steeper terrain with some trial and error experimenting.

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The big fella. Genius LT, which stands for long travel. 170mm of it.

[divider]Voltage[/divider]

Don’t get too excited yet, the Voltage ain’t coming to Australia. But maybe if we hassle the Scott distributor enough they may be able to put a special order in, or we’ll see them next year at least. Call it a freeride bike or a mini downhill bike, this guy would actually be a suitable choice for many downhill races at regional level.

Like a scaled down version of a downhill race bike, this chunky bike boasts a coil shock with a whopping 170-190mm of travel. It’s adjustable in its geometry and travel by reversing the lower shock mount, so it can be just as at home in the bike park throwing down tricks and jumps, or slacken it off for some higher speed downhill racing.

Scott 2015
Big improvements too the Voltage. Stiffer, adjustable, and compatible with 27.5″ and 26″ wheels.

[divider]Gambler[/divider]

The final test we did on the 2015 Scott rigs was the biggest, baddest bike in the range: the all-new Gambler. Up a wheel size for 2015 but that’s not all, with the frame completely different in almost every single aspect. The Gstaad-Scott team were racing these bikes at the Cairns World Cup in April this year, but went unnoticed as from a far looks a lot like the 26″ version.

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The downhill tracks at Deer Valley were a pretty good test for the Gambler, with frightening rock gardens and heart stoppingly steep chutes everywhere. The Gambler loved it all, and confirmed our love for the 27.5″ wheel on a downhill bike. For example, take your average rock garden – just stay off the brakes, and you instantly notice that the wheels don’t get as hung up on the edges, or fall into holes. A bigger wheel is always going to help that, but when you put a big tyre on a 27.5″ wheel, you’re unstoppable.

We quickly became confident, and after a couple runs we were hitting the rock gardens at full pelt, smashing the bike into the sharpest, ugliest rocky straights we’ve ridden in ages. The Gambler is also dead quiet, the thud of the tyres is all you really hear when descending. That has always given us a little bit of a extra confidence boost, if the bike is silent the harder we will push.

Is big too big? With advice from the guys at Scott, we opted to run the Gambler in the shortest wheelbase setting, and highest bottom bracket mode. Then we lowered the fork crowns as low as possible, sharpening the head angle even further. Still, we found the Gambler to be a mighty stable, long and confident ride.

With a massive adjustability range from a 61° – 65° head angle and a chain stay length that is adjustable from 422 – 440mm, in the right hands it could be fine tuned to suit such a wide variety of terrain. Plus you can fit 26″ wheels into the frame, and then tweak the geometry to suit the smaller wheels, nifty!

The rear suspension is so incredibly supple off the top of the stroke, it helps the wheels glue to the dirt and the tyres maintain contact with the loose surface as you bounce around. Sure the tyres are great, but the traction that such a supple suspension feeling gives this bike is unreal.

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Adaptability, traction and stability. The Gambler is a monster.
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The high pivot (above the bottom bracket) is the key to the Gamblers rock-gobbling hunger.

 

 

In all, we found the revisions to the popular Spark, Genius and Genius LT to be a small but good step in the right direction. The Gambler is amazing, and is surely going to make for a capable and fast downhill bike for the gravity crowd. Fingers crossed the Voltage will land on our shores one day, as we’d love to hit up some freeride lines and big jumps on the downhill tracks over here.

Keep your eyes out for the full range on http://www.scott-sports.com soon.

Scott 2015 Range Highlights

Flow got a glimpse of the future last week when we were invited to take a sneak peek at the Scott 2015 range. This global giant of sport (not just cycling) always delivers a staggeringly broad and deep range, with incredibly light flagship models, exceptionally refined carbon frames and some of the most versatile bikes out there. Next year’s line up looks set to do it once again. Is it just us, or does the product cycle gets faster every year – it’s not even tax time yet! Here are some of the range highlights.

Of the bikes we had access to, it is only the Gambler which has undergone serious revision for 2015. This is no surprise, as the Spark, Genius and Genius LT have all had significant overhauls in the past few years. Nonetheless, Scott has pulled together a seriously stylish looking lineup, with some stunning lightweight cross country and trail bikes in particular.

SPARK series – 27.5″ and 29″

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The Spark 900 RC, $7999.

The world-beating Spark line continues to be available in two wheel sizes, with a 27.5″-wheeled 700 series, and the 29er 900 series. It’s not just the wheel size that differs between the two variants – with the smaller wheels the travel is increased to 120mm front and rear, while the 900 series runs 100mm. This makes a lot of sense, for many reasons; 100mm of travel helps keep the big-wheeler more responsive, allows a lower front end height, and the greater roll over of the big wheels requires less travel to rumble on through.

With 120mm, the 27.5″-wheeled Sparks have the capability to play double duty as a cross country race bike and as a trail bike too, which will ensure they continue to be a super popular machine for occasional racer. Add to this Scott’s killer ‘three-bikes-in-one’ Twinloc system, and you have a very versatile machine. This system (found across the Spark, Genius and Genius LT lines) reduces and stiffens the travel at the flick off a switch, and can lock the suspension out entirely if you push the lever through to its second position.

As in previous years, the Spark is available in a range of frame material configurations too. There’s the full IMP carbon frames, carbon front / alloy rear for the mid-priced bikes and then full alloy framed bikes are the lower end of the range. In a trend that we’re confident will become increasingly common, the 29er bikes are only available from size medium to x-large, while the 27.5″ 700 series runs from small t0 large.

We couldn’t take our eyes off the bumble-bee inspired Spark 900 RC, which looks stunning and weighs in at 9.9kg. The SRAM XX1 / Shimano XTR build kit is perfect. As with the other 29er Sparks, travel is rear travel is adjustable from 100-70mm on the fly,

One bike that was not on show (but which will be available in Australia) is the Spark 700 Ultimate Di2. As the name implies, it gets the full XTR Di2 treatment, plus a custom FOX iCD electronic lockout which runs off the same battery as the shifting. Even with all the electronics, this bike is said to weigh only 10.1kg, and it’ll be 27.5″ only.

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Spark 700SL. You’ll get 5c change out of 10 grand for this puppy.
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The Spark 910, $5799.

 GAMBLER series – Scott’s downhill beast makes the jump to big wheels

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The big news on the downhill front is bigger wheels. It’s no secret that Brendan Fairclough and the rest of the Scott contingent have been experimenting with 27.5″ for some time now (we remember seeing test shots from at least 12 months ago), but now the larger hoops have made it onto the production bike.

While visually the frame looks pretty much identical, it has been re-engineered around the larger wheels to still facilitate some very short chain stay lengths even with 27.5″ rubber. Interestingly enough, the frame is ‘backwards compatible’ with 26″ wheels, though we can’t imagine too many folk will go down that route.

The Gambler retains its massive range of adjustability too, with the head angle alterable from 61-65 degree, 10mm of bottom bracket height adjustment and 19mm of wheelbase adjustment (from 421-440mm). Another subtle tweak has been made to the Floating Link suspension design. It still deliver 210mm of travel, but the kinematics have been tweaked to significantly reduce pivot rotation for better durability and less friction.

Two variants of the Gambler will be coming to Australia. The 710 here will retail for $7299. We don’t unfortunately have pricing on the 720, which comes with Shimano Zee and slightly cheaper suspension items.

 

Genius LT – more models available in Australia

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Previously available in only very limited numbers, the Genius LT will finally brought into Australia in a fairly considerable manner for 2015. This is music to our ears, as we think this bike is a real gravity enduro weapon. With 170mm travel front and rear, the has enough to take on just about any trail. With the Twinloc system dropping the rear travel to just 110mm at the push of a button it’s a very versatile machine.

There are three versions of the LT making their way to Australia, from the incredibly light ‘Tuned’ version which is said to weigh just 12.1kg, through to the all-alloy 720 which we have featured here ($4799). Even the LT 720, kitted out with some fairly weighty parts, comes in at just on 14kg.

All three models feature the newly updated FOX 36 fork, Shimano brakes, stealth dropper posts and some of our favourite tyres on the market, the Schwalbe Hans Dampf.

 Genius series – 27.5 and 29er options once again

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For a number of years now, the Genius has been one of the leading long-travel trail bikes on the market. It doesn’t try to position itself as a really hard-charging bike, but instead focuses on bringing longer travel into the realm of lightweight, all mixed in with geometry that is evenly balanced between climbing and descending.

As with the Spark and Scale, the Genius is available in both 27.5″ and 29″ wheel sizes, with 150mm and 130mm travel respectively, though it’s the 27.5″ bikes grabbing the lion’s share of sales. Again, there are full carbon, full alloy and alloy/carbon mix frames in the line-up too, depending upon the model. Topping the range is Tune series Genius, which is a sickeningly light 10.6kg out of the box, but it’s the 710 and 910 models that we think are the real meat and potatoes of the Genius range, with their reliable XT drivetrain and Rockshox Reverb posts.

The $3999 Genius 740 (below) is the entry level steed in the Genius 27.5 range. All that’s missing is a dropper post and it’s set! If 29″ wheels are more your thing, the Genius 950 is a very reasonable $3499 too.

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The Genius 740, $3999.

 

Scale series – amongst the lightest on the market 

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The Scale 700RC, $6999.

For the racers, the Scale is a hard one to look past, if only for the amazing off-the-shelf weight of some of the models. Again, there are 700 and 900 series bikes ( 27.5/29 ) available at a number of price points.

It’s Nino Schurter’s bike of choice, the Scale 700RC team replica, that grabbed our attention, for obvious reasons. It looks truly amazing, and at 8.6kg it’s crazy light too. Scott actually do offer an even lighter version, with the 700SL claimed to shed another 100g (for just another $2000 ).